Your body is not your masterpiece......
I don't talk about body confidence much in my social media or within my content for the business and that's probably because I've very rarely had it, let's face it there's always something, even when we know deep down we're looking good. As women especially we are all too quick to point out our flaws - afraid maybe that others don't realise we know we have a big bum or heavy thighs or carry our weight in our middle!
I’ve ‘struggled’ with my weight since I was probably in my early 20’s, to be honest I can’t even remember when the first time I gained the weight was.
As a youngster I was slim. I was very active a competitive swimmer from the age of 9 until about 15/16, training in the pool and gym probably 4 times a week and competing every weekend. And I loved running and netball too - so I was always on the move.
I was in the Navy (for a short time) in the 90’s (yes folks that’s the 1990’s - god that was a long time ago) and I know I was slim and fit then, I had to be, I remember being told I needed to lose 3 pounds to get accepted and saying to my dad "how....when I'm already slim and what difference is 3 pounds going to make". And my dad pointed out that it wasn't about the actual pounds because that wasn't the point, the point was about showing the commitment to wanting to be accepted!
I look at some old photo’s and think “wow’.
But then somehow I have become a yoyo dieter - gaining, losing, gaining, losing……
When I first got diagnosed in 2016 I had just lost a ruck of weight - probably about 3-4 stone and I looked and felt better than I had probably since my wedding 8 years earlier…..
then cancer came with surgery, chemo, the steroids, the side effects and don’t get me wrong I know not everyone who goes through chemo gains weight but I think those of us who naturally struggle with our relationship with food and have a tendency to carry that additional weight perhaps turn to food for comfort.
I think that’s what happened to me - and at the time I didn’t worry about it. But then afterwards I beat myself up about it - how did I let myself gain the weight, I felt awful and was embarrassed to look at myself in the mirror. It’s easy to say why did I allow this to happen, why did I comfort myself with bread, cakes, chocolate, but at the time it was what I needed - emotionally or physically - or even both.
And then New Years Eve 2016 about 4 months after the end of my treatment my sister and I joined the gym - god that was a bloody scary moment, those places are so intimidating if you are not a natural athlete, and you feel as though everyone is judging you. When in actual fact in hindsight many people are taking their proverbial hats off to you for having a go.
So I joined a bootcamp - oh boy did I struggle at first, I had PT sessions where I was literally sick during them - dashing off to the loo and then coming back and pushing through it, it was a struggle, I couldn’t even do a push up or one of the dreaded burpees - i bloody hate those things. And I remember struggling in a class one Sunday morning, I think i fell over trying to something and I felt so bloody useless I cried…on the treadmill…..I kid you not.
And so…..over time I improved (never really nailed the burpees to be honest) but I lost all the weight again and felt fantastic. And I kept it off - for 3 years or more….i have a very extensive size 16 wardrobe now (this is a good size for me) and I threw all the ‘fat’ clothes out - vowing never to put the weight on. Even when my husband passed away in 2019 I didn’t turn to food….I kept the weight off - in fact I probably lost more - for once I didn’t turn to food for comfort!
And then 2021 arrived, and bought cancer with it again and my body once again has changed - I’ve gained weight again (why didn’t I learn), not to mention that rubber ring around my middle (cheers chemo 🤪) and I was feeling pretty shitty about it - questioning why we do this to ourselves.
But then my friend shared this amazing quote from Glennon Doyle and things shifted:
“Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it's all you've got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it's your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that you have a paintbrush which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life - where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.”
Hell yeah….thanks Glennon Doyle…..she’s right, our our own unique paintbrushes that allow us to - actually they make us who we are. If I wasn’t someone who had taken herself and her body through this journey I wouldn’t be able to paint such authentic, vulnerable and needed messages that enable me to be the badasscancerthriver I am. The girl (ha ha I say that very loosely) who shares who she is, raw and real, no holding back and in doing so hopefully helps others.
My message really is about choosing to see and feel things in a way that will enable you to see the presence of love and know that this will allow you to cast out fear. By choosing to see things differently will allow you to open yourself up to embracing ways of healing and moving through this journey with more ease, grace, calm and joy. That's what Thrive through Breast Cancer is all about.
Don’t get me wrong I still fully intend on trying to lose the weight and get back into those size 16 clothes in my wardrobe but I need to remember that my paintbrush has got me through cancer twice, widowhood, redundancy and massive change of lifestyle and you know what I'm finally grateful for it. My brush strokes of life may be a little thicker than some others but they are my glorious, bold, badass brush strokes and I'm finally embracing that!